Green Newark is Natural Newark's blog on what's natural, what's green, what's healthy, what's useful, what's sustainable and what's worth it.
Newark's first bike lane opened yesterday. Rutgers paid for the design and the city paid $100,000 for its construction. The half mile path goes past the Museum, the Library, Washington Park and Rutgers. Six more are expected in the next seven months:
Clifton Ave (from Orange St to Victoria Ave)
First Street (from West Market St to Sussex Ave)
Irvine Turner Boulevard (from Clinton Ave to Springfield Ave)
Jones Street (from Springfield Ave to South Orange Ave)
Mt. Prospect Ave (from City Line to Heller Parkway)
Norfolk Street (from South Orange Ave to West Market St)
Let us know when you see them popping up, or if you use any!
I spend too much on dry cleaning. No matter how you calculate it, weekly, monthly, or yearly, I spend way too much. Since I can’t manage to stop pampering my laundry (even though I know I probably should), I have looked throughout the area for a “greener” cleaner. I found one of these in the not-so-local area of Clifton. So even though it was more than a short walk from home, the following specs. lured me in:
• Wet cleaning capabilities.
• Convert-A-Bag reusable garment bags in place of plastic.
• Recycling program for hangers and poly bags.
• Re-circulating water tower.
• Member EPA Energy Star Network.
• Gas powered boiler.
• Member NJEPA Wastewise Program
• Email programs for billing and newsletters.
I dropped off a ton of laundry there early last week, and I finally dragged myself in today to pay my 3-figure bill. But the service was definitely great, I felt like I had plenty of time to ask all of my questions, and even purchase a wonderfully reusable convert-a-bag. The bag is basically an adapted laundry bag, BUT the good thing is, unlike other cleaners, this shop is not afraid of recycled hangers and it knows exactly what to do with a reusable bag. I have sometimes felt that I was causing a nuisance at other cleaners when I attempted to reject plastic or return used hangers.
Go see them for yourself and tell them you heard about it from naturalnewark.com. (Probably won’t get you a discount, but definitely a smile.)
This bag can be so much more than a laundry bag.
Newark's planning board voted 7-1 Thursday night to approve construction of a natural gas power plant in Newark's East Ward. The plant, run by Hess, will have 250-foot smokestacks and will triple Newark's annual carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Star Ledger.
"They just sent a death notice to the city of Newark," said Kim Gaddy of the New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance (and a local resident). The city, of course, disagrees. Newark's Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Adam Zipkin, remarkably, claims the city's independent experts have concluded the project will likely improve the city's air quality "by allowing the more polluting generators [in the city]... to run less often." But the power plant's nothing new for the Ironbound, which got its name from being a manufacturing mecca. Event the biochemical weapon Agent Orange was made there in the 50s and 60s, resulting in the EPA classifying the former weapons factory a "Superfund site" in the 80s for the high level of toxicity in the area. "Instead of helping a community overcome its industrial past and move forward, you're throwing it back," said NJ Sierra Club chief Jeff Tittel.
Kim Gaddy is planning to sue and environmentalists are protesting the decision. The Star Ledger reports that Hess has promised to pay the city of Newark $100 million over the next 30 years for the plant.
In some cultures, removing shoes upon entering a home is a
sign of respect. When I was
younger, I remember some of my friends who were raised in various parts of Asia
would instinctively halt at my threshold to take off their footwear. They were
seldom deterred by the site of piles of books or paper on the same floor. They
respected my home, and it didn’t matter if I wasn’t the tidiest
householder. Some other
friends, who were practicing Muslims, did the same. Even if I told them that I
didn’t mind shoes in my house, they insisted on removing theirs. Now, many years later, as I have become
increasingly preoccupied with finding eco-friendly housekeeping solutions, I
recall the essential wisdom of those practices. Keeping outside shoes outside prevents dirt, germs, and
other grime from gathering in your home.
Maintaining a green home is not just about finding numerous eco-friendly
products to replace conventional ones. It’s also about changing your attitudes
and practices about use. The less
grime you track in, the less you need to blast it away with products. A pretty simple truth.
So let's say you already know and accept that outside shoes belong outside, you might wonder how you can convey this to guests. Not everyone who comes to your home will share your
commitment to sustainable cleanliness.
Not everyone will have socks clean enough to expose. Some people will be ashamed about
athlete’s feet or may simply be unwilling to bend to unravel a complicated matrix of
laces or buttons. So should you
ban them? Probably not.
There are several things you can do to make your shoe-free home
guest-friendly. Here are some
1. Have guest footwear available –
there are many cheap varieties of athletic sandals that can be worn with socks.
They are easy to keep clean between guests.
2. Put your plastic bags to use –
Give recycled plastic bags to utility or other workmen who need to enter your
home. Maybe the plumber or your landlord won't remove his boots. But you can offer them a covering.
3. Buy a nice shoe rack and keep it at
your door – don’t expect people to read your intentions. A subtle way of
introducing the shoe policy is to have a shoe rack located in a place that is
accessible, attractive, and visible to your guests.
If all else fails, put up a polite
sign. I saw someone do this, and I
am sure it’s effective, if a bit straightforward. How you convey this policy in a clear but hospitable
way will require some finesse on your part.
The Pathmark on Lyons Ave is in a bustling shopping center just beyond the Weequahic section (along the Newark-Irvington border). The store is relatively clean, and has all of the things
that you’d expect to find in a typical Pathmark. Since it’s not always possible to make the trek to
Montclair, Vaux Hall, or West Orange to shop at Whole Foods, we thought we’d
give you a sense of what a health-conscious, natural products-interested
consumer might expect on typical day at this particular Pathmark. We went just before rush
hour, and while the store was pretty full, it definitely wasn’t uncomfortably
crowded. The lines were long (because there weren’t too many lanes open), but
our cashier was courteous and efficient.
Produce: There were very few organic options. While there were some Greenway brand
organic herbs available for $2.99 per package, most of the other produce was just ok. Some veggies, like the okra and yellow squash looked seriously damaged, but
on the plus side, the produce section features a wide selection of leafy greens
that seem, on the whole pretty good.
Products: The major varieties of Nasoya Tofu were available for $ 2.99
and $ 3.29 respectively. We also saw Gimmie
Lean Sausage style veggie patties, and Galaxy Nutritional Foods veggie
Meat: Absolutely no organic meat.
Canned Goods: We were happy to see 9 kinds of Amy’s soups for sale here!
Dairy: Three kinds of organic milk and Greenway Brand Organic Sharp
Cheddar for $3.99.
Cleaning Products: The most widely available eco-friendly cleaning products
were made by Greenway. Some products
include, Large (30 gal) trash bags made of 65% recycled plastic sold for $2.59,
and Tall (13 gal) Kitchen Bags, also made of 65% recycled plastic sold for
$2.59. Some of the more popular eco-friendly products were also available
including Seventh Generation (Wipes,
and Dish Liquid), Mrs. Myers
(countertop spray), and Method
(anti-bacterial wipes), Bon Ami
Abrasive Cleaner. There were also a number of products from Martha Steward's green product line as well. The selection of eco-friendly products was limited, but acceptable. Maybe we overlooked it, but we didn’t see any
natural/eco-friendly hand soap! And we were a bit surprised.
Overall, we thought that this Pathmark was pretty good. We did notice that several price tags
were removed or misplaced, so it was sometimes difficult to figure out exactly how much things cost, we would still give this store
3.5/5 Green Hearts
Lots of organic milk options...
Okra? Not so much...
1) Set Realistic Fitness Goals - Before you rush out to spend money on an expensive gym membership, assess your schedule and your real habits to see where you can
create opportunities for exercise that will not disrupt your life. If you know you're not a morning person, don't plan to go to the gym at 6am!
2) Vegetarianism Isn’t For Everyone, Vegetables Are
- While we all recognize the importance of eating more fresh greens and vegetables
, no need to take a stand against your favorite breakfast sandwich There is nothing wrong with eating things that you like every once in a while
, as long as you are making sure to include more wholesome foods as well
.3) Walk More - Choose to walk
over taking a car when you can, and keep in mind public transportation routes that offer less transfers but more walking to get to where you're going. Use maps
to plan journeys that include walking. Just fifteen minutes a day could make a huge difference
, and it's a good way to get to know to the neighborhoods you're going through anyway. Just stay safe!
4) Give and Accept Apologies
- Maintaining healthy and strong relationships with friends and family
members goes a long way toward reducing stress
and increasing our
happiness, so saying sorry and admitting fault
can help avoid stress
from relationships that ought to alleviate it.
5) Don't Be a Yuck Mouth
- Even if your teeth seem to be fine, it's important to check in with the dentist at least twice a year
. Caring about your teeth isn't just important for your social life, but eventually poor dental health creates other kinds of problems as well.
I have been searching for a clean, natural hair friendly
salon in Newark for almost a year. Because I am really picky about hair
services (I can get particular about everything from the way my hair is handled
to the cleanliness of the floor), it has been really hard for me to find some
place I can trust. But sometime
last week, I got a little tired of sporting my low-maintenance fro and FINALLY decided that it was time for me to take a look around to see if there was
ANYWHERE (besides NYC or Philly) where I could get acceptable—if not
I stumbled upon
Diamond Doobies after a Google search for natural/organic salons in
Newark. I was happy to see that it
was located on Market Street, which is accessible by public
transportation. So I called to
make an appointment. The person who answered the phone was professional and
friendly. When I arrived, I heard
the sounds of classic R&B and Neo Soul, which for me, is always a plus. The salon was clean, decorated in warm
earth-tone colors, and very inviting. It wasn’t overly crowded when I went (on
a Sunday), so I was able to chat at length with the proprietor Heather, and my
stylist. My stylist treated my hair with care and respect. That is very important for me.
Although I was there a
bit longer than I had anticipated, I enjoyed pleasant conversation with the
small group there as we watched a J-Lo action flick and some comedy. The
bathroom was clean and well maintained—just like everything else in this
salon. Besides all that, the
prices are reasonable, the stylists competent and affable.
I did not actually specifically ask
about what kinds of natural/organic products they used—I was just too pleased
to have found some place decent to get my hair done. I am definitely going back, so I will make sure to ask about
the products and report back to you next time. Diamond Doobies is at 188 Market street. Check them out on www.diamonddoobies.com
Seventh Generation recently rolled out a detailed and
accessible sustainability report.
This report notes the successes and failures that this green product-maker faced in 2010. The report is REALLY transparent about current and future goal to further limit the toxins
and environmental footprints left by the manufacturing practices. The report highlighted quite a few areas of concern (like the failure to meet targets to reduce use of virgin plastics), and gave consumers a sense that this was a company with a real vision. And no, Seventh Generation products are not
perfect. But we can certainly applaud a company for working hard to respond to
the health and ethical concerns of their consumers. And that strategy appears to be working for them, Seventh Generation
products are widely available, widely advertised (Chloe Sevigny’s character
even used them on HBO’s Big Love). Go read the report for yourself, and if you are a regular buyer of Seventh Generation, definitely comment!This report by Seventh Generation is a
reminder that demanding and discerning consumers can help tp shape what makes
it to market. Demand more. And if you still don’t get it, figure out how to
make it happen yourself.
They make so many different products!
Students from Rutgers and NJIT built an impressive 960 square foot solar house made of concrete, the only one of its kind at the biennial Solar Decathalon in Washington
. It was built in under a week! This sunny local news in solar comes among grim national news, with one of the federal government's solar darlings, Solyndra
, going bankrupt and leaving the government more than half a billion dollars in the red for it. A recent Bloomberg editoria
l noted that the real Solyndra scandal was government's "too big to fail" approach to alternative energy subsidies. The Newark students' solutions-oriented approach with the concrete solar home didn't cost anywhere close to what Solyndra alone cost, and there are at least a dozen such large companies sucking up all the money and interest in solar and other alternative energies. We at Green Newark are going to keep looking for smart, local and low-cost energy solutions in the New Jersey area and hope there's more sunny news like this
The amount of available information about the organic/natural products and practices is staggering. Even though I am a person who enjoys and makes time to read a good deal of material, I sometimes find myself getting mixed-up, confused, and frustrated by the competing claims being made. Recently, I read some articles
that made some powerful criticisms of my all-time favorite toothpaste by Tom’s of Maine.
Basically the argument was that Tom’s was fooling us all. First of all, the company is now owned by Colgate-Palmolive, and not a small company based in Maine. Secondly, there are claims that the makers of Tom’s toothpaste were misleading us about the ingredients in the products. I for one was disappointed, outraged, and felt really foolish for buying a product because I thought I was sticking it to big conglomerates AND saving the planet, only to learn that perhaps I wasn’t doing either. Tom’s of Maine is not the first “natural” product manufacturer to come under attack, and it won’t be the last. Charges of “greenwashing” (that means marketing something as green when it’s really not, or at least not as green as it claims to be) are being leveled against many product manufacturers these days. It is easy to feel tricked. To switch off and say, Tom’s has been acquired by a company that many in the green community might consider near diabolical. But don’t we want the green revolution to spread?
The goal should not be for green products to stay confined to a tiny group of eco-conscious makers. If the most widely distributed products are made with absolutely no sensitivity to green concerns, does it really matter if a few green-perfect products are making their way to market? To really make green living part of the way that more of us relate to the world, green thinking has to move beyond communities of self-proclaimed naturalists. Green washing isn’t just trickery. It is a clear and promising indicator of a real culture change taking place in our country and in many places across the world. The fact that makers of conventionally chemical-heavy products feel the need to pander to our green preoccupations is significant. What we ought to do now is hold companies like Colgate-Palmolive accountable for the improvements that they claim to be making. Pushing for accountability rather than decrying Colgate’s dalliance with natural product production is the best and most progressive way forward.